no image

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 314*
Irma Stern
(South African, 1894-1966)
'Washer Women'

£ 200,000 - 300,000
US$ 280,000 - 410,000
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
'Washer Women'
signed and dated 'Irma Stern 1925' (lower left); bears partial exhibition label (verso)
oil on canvas
92.5 x 72.2cm (36 7/16 x 28 7/16in).

Footnotes

  • EXHIBITED:
    London, Grosvenor Gallery, Irma Stern Memorial Exhibition, 14 March - 15 April 1967, no.15


    Irma Stern painted a number of images depicting labour – carrying water, harvesting fruit – but instead of creating narratives, these were rich symphonies of colour and rhythm. The current lot is a case in point. The bent arms of the washer women alternate with the directional flow of the water to create a dynamism of blues, greens, whites and browns. Meanwhile the triangular figure group echoes the pointed hill in the distance to evoke a sense of harmony with nature.

    The tall agave plants that rise from the earthy hues of this hilly landscape suggest that the scene is set in the Eastern Cape, most likely Pondoland, which Stern visited in the early 1920s. Typical of this period in Stern's oeuvre, the artist uses black tones to create depth and definition, juxtaposing bold, often complementary, colours to create a balance between form and feeling. Exploring the versatility of oil paint appears to be another preoccupation in Washer Women: fairly thin and directly applied to the surface in some areas, the paint is thicker and more tactile in many of the shifting facets of the stream.

    In 1925, Stern held another exhibition at Ashbey's Gallery in Cape Town: in February 1922, An Exhibition of Modern Art by Miss Irma Stern had drawn extensive crowds and startled the traditional tastes of local viewers with its raw colour and simplified and distorted forms. This response served to spur her on and Stern began to view herself as part of the vanguard responsible for challenging a prevailing aesthetic provincialism. Her exhibition of 1925 was somewhat better received, no doubt influenced by the increasing recognition Stern was garnering in Europe. The reverse of the image bears a partial exhibition label from the Irma Stern Memorial Exhibition held at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1967, reflecting another milestone in the reception of her work.

    We are grateful to Christopher Peter for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:
    M. Arnold, Irma Stern: A Feast for the Eye, (Vlaeberg, 1995), p.74
Contacts
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories, buyer's premium excluding Cars, Motorbikes, Wine, Whisky and Coin & Medal sales, will be as follows:

Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £10,000 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £10,000 up to and including £450,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £450,000 up to and including £4,500,000;
and 14.5% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £4,500,000.

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalog.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
* Import low rate

VAT on imported items at a preferential rate of 5% on Hammer Price and the prevailing rate on Buyer's Premium.

App